Asbestos release costs Cleveland businessman $7.8 million and five years in prison

Failure to remove asbestos before demolishing a Cleveland factory will cost a Cleveland businessman nearly five years in prison and $7.8 million.

U.S. District Judge Donald C. Nugent sentenced Christopher Gattarello to 57 months in prison and ordered him to pay $5.9 million to the city of Cleveland to clean the site, a former National Acme plant on East 131st Street in Cleveland. He also was ordered to pay $800,000 to the U.S. EPA for work already done.

Gattarello owned and controlled several garbage-hauling businesses in Cleveland, including Reach Out Disposal, All Points Rubbish Disposal and Axelrod Rubbish Recycling.

Gattarello leased the National Acme factory in 2011 to recycle paper and cardboard waste there, eventually filling the building with waste materials.

He purchased the building in May 2012, intending to demolish it and sell the metal rubble for scrap. Without city approval, demolition began in July 2012 releasing asbestos fibers into the air, a violation of the Clean Air Act.

"Mr. Gattarello created a garbage dump in a residential neighborhood near a school, which remains an environmental hazard," said acting U.S. Attorney David A. Sierleja in a news release. "He has caused irreparable harm and deserves this punishment."

In a separate release, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson praised the action and the work of the city's Environmental Crimes Task Force, which aided in the case.

"The city has pursued the responsible parties aggressively to ensure they provide full remediation of the site in accordance with federal EPA laws and regulations," Jackson said. "The city sought and was granted full restitution from one of the responsible individuals at his sentencing in federal court today."

Gattarello and a co-defendant, Robert Shaw of Ypsilanti, Mich., also must pay $1.1 million to a Louisiana financial factoring company for submitting false invoices. Shaw, an employee of Gattarello, also was sentenced to a year in prison.


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